NO EXCUSES! – Para-Athletes inspire at the ING NYC Marathon

 

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Yesterday I spectated the ING NYC Marathon in a serious way for the first time. It was a whole adventure that led me to many stories of inspiration. So many of my fellow spectators had their eyes on the Men and Women Elite runners who run the marathon at lightning speeds with winners Geoffrey Mutai, and Priscah Jeptoo crossing the line in under 2 1/2 hours. Watching them literally sprint through the course is a truly awesome example of physiological superiority. But I got lucky and accidentally came across a group of athletes who were as, if not more, spectacular. On my way to mile 18 on 1st avenue, I scootered with my 14 year old daughter across the top of Central Park from the West Side. As we got to 5th avenue, there were no crowds, but the street was blocked off and we started to hear the sirens. Of course, thinking it was the Elite women,  we excitedly peered up 5th avenue expecting runners. Instead we saw the para-athletes speeding towards us. In an flash, they sped by propelled only by their hands and arms, heads down, intensely focused for the hill ahead. These athletes had just completed TWENTY THREE miles propelled by JUST their arms. At mile 24 we saw a blind female runner holding a tether attached to her guide. The bar for AWESOME raised to a whole other level!

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Seeing the capacity of human determination yesterday was so inspiring. What in these elite athletes made them able to rise above what to most of us would be an insurmountable disability to surpass the abilities of most non disabled people? It just reinforced my mantra that we really have NO EXCUSE not to reach for our goals. How big is our individual capacity to overcome the obstacles that we encounter? CLEARLY it is ENORMOUS. How many of us would be able to rise above a seemingly insurmountable challenge like losing our ability to walk or see, much less soar through the streets of NYC for 26.2 miles? I think we ALL have it, we just have to stop standing in front of ourselves and blocking the way with excuses, fears and insecurities. If you want something, you will find a way. I BELIEVE IT. It might be really difficult, and you might fail the first time or the first 100 times. But the truth is, that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain in taking on something that is seemingly beyond our capacity. Think it, Believe it, and it WILL happen.

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The photo above is of Minda Dentler. As an infant in India, she contracted Polio which left her paralyzed. Relegated to cheering on family members from the sidelines, in one local race she saw some para-athletes competing. Instead of saying “I can’t”, she dreamed “could I?’.  All she could think of was the possibility, not the impossibility even though she had no idea how it would be possible. Fortunately, a friend introduced her to Achilles International a wonderful organization which encourages people with disabilities to participate in sports. With their help, she learned how to handcycle and participated in her first marathon in NYC in 2006. Since then she has participated in 10 marathons in 5 years.

Looking for her next challenge, she discovered triathlons while watching a few of her disabled friends compete in the NYC Triathlon in 2007. By early 2008, she not only signed up for the NYC Triathlon, but also took swimming classes at Asphalt Green and learned how to push a racing wheelchair. It took over 4 hours and 30 minutes to finish her first Olympic triathlon, but she was hooked. She has subsequently completed 14 Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, 7 Half-Ironman distance triathlons and 2 Ironman distance triathlons. She has also placed in the USA Paratriathlon National Championships from 2008-2011 and was a member of the 2010 USA Paratriathlon National Team. On October 12, 2013 she entered the history books by being the first official female handcyclist to complete the Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii. She swam 2.4 miles, handcycled 112 miles, and pushed a racing wheelchair 26.2 miles. And she did it in just over 14 hours 39 minutes. AMAZING! She just shows us that we ALL can dream and that we ALL have what it takes to get us there.

NO EXCUSES! BE INSPIRED! PUSH FORWARD AND MEET YOUR GOALS HEAD ON! LIVE YOUR DREAM! NOW!